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Whose Tune Is It

For music directors, the industry is a copyright minefield with no roadmap

After I have honoured all my commitments, I have decided not to do more than three to four films a year. It’s going to be completely different from here on. Except Dhoom 3, which will be released in December 2012, all my films including Cocktail are going to release early next yearAgent Vinod will hit the cinemas by this year end.

There are three reasons for this. One, doing 17 films a year, I do not get to spend as much time as I should on each film. I think I need to pull back myself, enjoy life so that I can enjoy music. I came in the film industry to enjoy music, and suddenly when it starts looking like a job, I think it’s time to reflect.

I haven’t adapted to the commerce, but commerce has adapted to me. When I came to Mumbai in 1999, I didn’t think I would be able to do film music because the music of that time was different. Tujhe dekha toh ye jaana sanam is not my kind of music. I enjoy it but I wouldn’t have been able to create such music. But Pehla nasha is the kind of music I could have made.

Slowly, the scenario changed. The kind of music that I liked was liked by producers too and eventually the masses. And if you ask what makes my music massy, I would say that I am like any guy next door. So if there is something I like, it’s bound to be liked by a larger audience. I do not consider myself an intellectual.

For songs like Bheegi bheegi I had bought the copyright, and there were many others. But early in my career, I did not pay much attention to these things, and I did whatever I was told. At the time, copyright wasn’t all that important. But I have burnt my fingers so badly and it still haunts me.
I have already gone to criminal court and filed cases against two people. One of them said the words, Character dheela, is copied. Now he cannot go to Amitabh Bhattacharya because he is relatively new – so he feels he can get me into this!

There was one person who claimed the Rasiya goondo main phass gayi tune was his. He complained to the Music Composers Association of India (MCAI), who said the tune was completely different. But by the time MCAI could come up with its verdict (it took two days), he went to the press and the media picked it up. How does one stop it?

I haven’t got many offers in other genres. I would like to do something different now, something that I haven’t done before. Also, I am a film school student, so I want to do experimental films. I want to be a part of those films also. If I cut down on my work from commercial films, I will be able to do a lot of things.

Of course, I want to plan a tour, and I want to reshape the band, Metro. I also want to do a band Metro album. I was waiting for Anurag Basu to do Metro 2, but with the films he is doing now, it seems like a far-fetched project.

I am not keeping the rights with myself until the MCAI makes a draft on the copyright issues. They will make a combined draft, which will list the common guidelines to follow. After they provide these guidelines, I will start keeping the rights. All over the world, music composers work with royalty. We are the only country to work in this fashion. A one-time buyout has become part of us now.

I haven’t collected my IPRS royalty for three years – they must have a lot of my money with them, and I am sure they will not give it to me. I do get PRS royalty very regularly, but most of my royalty is with IPRS. I hope someone takes out that money.

I am still not very well-versed with how copyright works in India. My whole thing is – just follow the movement. We have chosen our representatives and they know the nitty - gritty better, so it is better that they follow it up.

Well, the sound has to change. One decade has already passed. Things change every ten years. Either it will be fully electronic or it will take a completely U-turn and return to the so called typical Hindi film music. But it will be U-turn with new packaging. I think Hindi music, in the next three to five years, will go through a complete change.

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